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Seneca
Total population
56,222
Regions with significant populations
 United States
(New York, Oklahoma)
Cattaragus Reservation 2,412 (2000 census)
Tonawanda Reservation 543
"
Six Nations Territory
Allegany Reservation 1,099
"
Niagara Falls Territory
Buffalo Creek Territory
Seneca-Cayuga Terr.
Seneca Aboriginal Terr.
Todiakton Territory
 Canada (Ontario)
Languages

Onan'dowa'ga, English, Other Iroquoian Dialects

Religion

Longhouse, Handsome Lake, Kai'hwi'io, Kanoh'hon'io, Kahni'kwi'io, other Christian denominations

Related ethnic groups

Onondaga Nation, Oneida Nation, Tuscarora Nation, Mohawk Nation, Cayuga Nation, other Iroquoian peoples, Wyandot (Huron) Nation, Neutral Nation, Erie Nation, Lenape Nation, Shawnee Nation, Mingo Nation

The Seneca are a group of indigenous people native to North America. They were the nation located farthest to the west within the Six Nations or Iroquois League in New York before the American Revolution. While exact population figures are unknown, approximately 15,000 to 25,000 Seneca live in Canada, near Brantford, Ontario. They are descendants of Seneca who were resettled there as allies of the British after the American Revolution. Nearly 30,000 Seneca live in the United States, on and off reservations around Buffalo, New York and in Oklahoma.

Contents

Name

The Seneca nation's own name is Onöndowága', meaning "People of the Great Hill". It is identical to the endonym used by the Onondagas. With the formation of the Haudenosaunee they settled and lived the farthest west of all the nations within the Haudenosaunee. Other nations called them "Seneca" after their principal village of Osininka. Since "Osininka" sounds like the Anishinaabe word Asinikaa(n), meaning "[Those at the Place] Full of Stones", this gave rise to further confusion. Non-Haudenosaunee nations confused the Seneca nation's name with that of the Oneida nation's endonym Onyota'a:ka, meaning "People of the Standing Stone."

The similarity to the name of the Roman statesman Seneca is entirely coincidental.

History

The Seneca traditionally lived in what is now New York between the Genesee River and Canandaigua Lake. Some recent archaeological evidence indicates their territory extended to the Allegheny River in present-day northwestern Pennsylvania. The Seneca were by far the most populous of the Haudenosaunee Nations, numbering "about four thousand souls" by the seventeenth century.[1]

Seneca villages were located as far east as current day Schuyler County, south into current Tioga and Chemung Counties, north and east into Tompkins and Cayuga Counties and west into the Genesee Valley. The villages were the homes and headquarters of the Seneca. While the Seneca maintained substantial permanent settlements and raised agricultural crops in the vicinity of their villages, they also hunted widely through extensive areas and prosecuted far-reaching military campaigns. The villages, where hunting and military campaigns were planned and executed, indicate clear aboriginal presence and hegemony in these areas.[2]

The Seneca had two branches; the western and the eastern. Each branch distinct, they were individually incorporated and recognized by the Iroquois Confederacy Council. The western Senecas existed predominately in and around the Genesee River, gradually moving west and southwest into Erie and Niagara then south into Allegheny and Pennsylvania. The eastern Senecas existed predominantly south of Seneca Lake in and around current-day Corning. They moved south and east into Pennsylvania and the western Catskill area.[3]

The west and north were under constant attack from their powerful Iroquoian brethren, the Huron. To the South, the Iroquoian tribes of the Andaste (Conestoga and Susquehannock) threatened constant warfare. The Algonkian tribes of the Mohicans blocked access to the Hudson River in the east and northeast. In the southeast, the Algonkian tribes of the Delaware (Delaware, Minnisink and Esopus) threatened war from eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey and the Lower Hudson. (Map 2 Seneca Nation of Indians v. State of New York, 206 F.Supp.448 (2002) Appendix D.; See also Parker at 25-28)

They used the Genesee and Allegheny rivers as well as the Great Indian War and Trading Path (the Seneca Trail) to travel from Lake Ontario into Pennsylvania and Ohio (Merrill, Arch. Land of the Senecas; Empire State Books, 1949, p 18-25). The eastern Senecas sat just north of the intersection of the Chemung, Susquehanna, Tioga and Delaware rivers which converged in Tioga. They provided passage deep into all parts of eastern and western Pennsylvania, as well as east and northeast into the Delaware Water Gap and the western Catskills. (Map 4 -Folts, James D. “The Westward Migration of the Munsee Indians in the Eighteenth Century", The Challenge: An Algonquian Peoples Seminar. Albany: New York State Bulletin No. 506, 2005. Pp 32)

Traditionally, the Seneca Nation economy was based on hunting and gathering activities, fishing and the cultivation of corn, beans, and squash. These vegetables were the staple of the Haudenosaunee diet and were called "the three sisters". Seneca women generally grew and harvested the three sisters, as well as gathered medicinal plants, roots, berries, nuts, and fruit. Seneca women held sole ownership of all the land and the homes, thus the women also tended to any domesticated animals like dogs and turkeys. Women were in charge of the kinship groups called clans. The woman in charge of a clan was called the "clan mother". Despite the prominent position of women in Iroquois society, their influence on the diplomacy of the nation was limited. If the "clan mothers" didn't agree with any major decisions made by the chiefs, they could in fact eventually depose them.

Seneca men were generally in charge of locating and developing the town sites, including clearing the forest for the production of fields. Seneca men also spent a great deal of time hunting and fishing. This activity took them away from the towns or villages to well-known and productive hunting and fishing grounds for extended amounts of time. These hunting and fishing locations were well maintained and not simply left to grow as "wild" lands.[4] Seneca men maintained the traditional title of War Sachems within the Haudenosaunee. A Seneca war sachem was in charge of gathering the warriors of the Haudenosaunee and leading them into battle.

Seneca people lived in villages and towns. Archaeological records indicate that some of these villages were surrounded by palisades because of warfare. These towns were relocated every ten to twenty years as soil, game and other resources were depleted. During the nineteenth century, many Seneca adopted customs of their immediate American neighbors by building log cabins, practicing Christianity and participating in the local agricultural economy.

Contact with Europeans

Seneca Chief Cornplanter Portrait by F. Bartoli, 1796

During the colonial period they became involved in the fur trade, first with the Dutch and then with the British. This served to increase hostility with other native groups, especially their traditional enemy, the Huron, an Iroquoian tribe in New France near Lake Simcoe.

In 1609 the French allied with the Huron and set out to destroy the Iroquois. The Iroquois-Huron war raged until approximately 1650. The Confederacy, however, grew in power and determined to unify all Iroquois speaking people while vanquishing all enemies. By the winter of 1648 the Confederacy, lead by the Seneca, fought deep into Canada and surrounded the capital of Hurania. Defeated, the Hurons unconditionally surrendered and pledged allegiance to the Seneca as their protector. The Seneca subjugated the Huron and sent them to assimilate in the Seneca homelands. (Parker at pp 36–52; Merrill at pp. 78–83.)

Led by the Seneca, the Confederacy began a near 35 year period of conquest over all of its surrounding tribes following the defeat of its most powerful enemy, the Huron. In 1650 the Seneca attacked and defeated the Neutrals to their west. In 1653 the Seneca attacked and defeated the Eries to their south west. Both tribes were subjugated to the Seneca and relocated to the Seneca home land. The Seneca then inhabited the vanquished tribe’s traditional territories in western New York. (Parker at pp 36–52; Merrill at pp. 78–83.)

In 1675 the Seneca defeated the Andaste/Susquehannock to the south and south east, extending the Confederacy’s hegemony from Canada to Ohio, deep into Pennsylvania and the Mohawk Valley and lower Hudson in the east while seeking peace with the New England Mohegan. Within the Confederacy, Seneca power and presence extended from Canada to Pittsburgh, east to Lackawanna and into the land of the Minnisink on the New York /New Jersey border. (Parker at pp 36–52; Merrill at pp. 78–83.)

The Seneca then set about to curtail the encroachment of white settlers. This increased tensions and conflict with the French to the north and west and the English and Dutch to the south and east. As buffers between themselves and white settlers, the Confederacy resettled conquered tribes during this period, with the greatest concentration of resettlements on the lower Susquehanna. (Folts at pp. 33–38).

In 1685, King Louis XIV of France sent Marquis de Denonville to govern New France in Quebec. Denonville set out to destroy the Seneca Nation and in 1687 landed a French armada at Irondequoit Bay. Denonville struck straight into the seat of Seneca power and destroyed many of its villages. Fleeing before the attack, the Seneca moved further west, east and south down the Susquehanna River. Although great damage was done to the Seneca home land, the Seneca’s military might was not appreciably weakened, however; it drove the Confederacy and the Seneca into the arms of the British in the east. (Houghton at 244).

Despite the French military campaigns, Seneca power remained great and far reaching at the beginning of the 18th century. Gradually, the Seneca began to ally themselves with the British and Dutch against France’s ambitions in the new world. By 1760, the British, with the help of the Seneca, captured Fort Niagara from the French. This same year Quebec fell as did France’s ambitions in the new world. The Senecas experienced relative peace from 1760 to 1775. When war finally broke out between the British and the colonists, the Seneca attempted to remain neutral. Neutrality was futile when the in the process of routing the British at Fort Stanwix the colonists slaughtered many Seneca onlookers. (Merrill at pp 90–97.)

In order to neutralize the Confederacy, General Washington sent an expedition of 3000 to 5000 men under the command of General Sullivan up the very waterways and paths used by the Seneca to expand its hegemony. Sullivan’s expedition drove straight up the Susquehanna to Elmira, pushing the mighty Seneca to defeat at Fort Niagara. From this point on, the nation settled in new villages along Buffalo creek, Tonawanda creek, and Cattaraugus creek in western New York. These settlements eventually became the nation’s reservations as part of the Treaty of Fort Stanwix in 1784. (Merrill at pp 90–97.)

Seneca's Expanding Influence and Diplomacy

In and around 1600, the area currently comprising Sullivan, Ulster and Orange counties was home to the Delaware nation of Indians. The Delaware nation was Algonkian speaking and made up of the Delaware, Minnisink and Esopus tribes. These tribes would later become known as the Munsee’s. (Folts at pp 32) The Munsee’s inhabited large tracts of land from the middle Hudson into the Delaware Water Gap and into north east Pennsylvania and North West New Jersey. The Esopus inhabited the Mid-Hudson valley (Sullivan and Ulster counties). The Minnisink inhabited North West New Jersey. The Delaware inhabited the southern Susquehanna and Delaware water gaps. The Minnisink-Esopus trail, today’s Route 209, helped tie this world together.

To the west of the Delaware nation was the Iroquoian speaking Andaste/Susquehannock. To the east of the Delaware Nation lay the encroaching peoples of the Dutch New Netherlands. From Manhattan, up through the Hudson, the settlers were interested in trading furs with the Susquehannock in and around current Lancaster Pennsylvania. As early as 1626, the Susquehannock were struggling to get past the Delaware to trade with the Dutch in Manhattan. In 1634 war broke out between the Delaware and the Susquehannock, and by 1638 the defeated Delaware became tributaries to the Susquehanna.

The Confederacy to the north was growing in strength and numbers, and the Seneca, as the most numerous and adventurous, began to travel extensively. Eastern Senecas traveled down the Chemung River to the Susquehanna River. At Tioga the Seneca had access to every corner of Munsee country. Seneca warriors traveled the Forbidden Path south to Tioga to the Great Warrior Path to Scranton and then east over the Minnisink Path through the Lorde’s valley to Minnisink. The Delaware river path went straight south through the ancient Indian towns of Cookhouse, Cochecton and Minnisink where it became the Minsi Path. (Map 5 Paul A. W. Wallace, Indian Paths of Pennsylvania (Harrisburg, Pa: Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, 1965)).

Utilizing these ancient highways, the Seneca exerted influence in what is today Ulster and Sullivan Counties from the Dutch Period of the Colonies history onward. Historical evidence demonstrating Seneca Indian presence in the Lower Catskills includes:

In 1657 and 1658 the Seneca visited as diplomats, Dutch Colonial officials in New Amsterdam (Edmund Bailey O’Callaghan and Berthonl Fernow, Eds., Documents Relative to the Colonial History of the State of New York (Albany: Weed, Parsons, 1881) [hereafter NYCD], 13:184

In 1659 and 1660 the Seneca interceded in the First Esopus War which raged between the Dutch and Esopus at current day Kingston. The Seneca chief urged Stuyvesant to end the bloodshed and “return the captured Esopus savages.”(NYCD 13:114,121,124,177-178, 184; See also The Senecas and the First Esopus War. NYCD, 13: 184-185.) In 1663 after the Second Esopus War, Minnisink chief reported that the Seneca threatened to attack him (NYCD, 13:361.)

In 1675, after a decade of warfare between the Iroquois (mainly the Mohawk and Oneida) and the Andaste/Susquehannock, the Seneca finally succeeded in vanquishing their last remaining great enemy.(Parker at pp 49) Survivors were colonized in settlements along the Susquehanna river and were assimilated into the Seneca and Cayuga tribes (Folts at pp 31–47).

In 1694, Captain Arent Schuyler, in an official report, described the Minnisink chiefs as being fearful of being attacked by the Seneca because of not paying wampum tribute to these Iroquois. (NYCD, 4:98-99 Seneca Power Over the Minnisink Indians)

Around 1700 the upper Delaware watershed of New York and Pennsylvania became home of the Minnisink Indians moving north and northwest from New Jersey, and of Esopus Indians moving west from the Mid-Hudson valley.(Folts at pp 34)

By 1712 the Esopus Indians were reported to have to the east Pepacton branch of the Delaware River, on the western slopes of the Catskill Mountains. (Folts at pp 34)

From 1720 to the 1750’s the Seneca resettled and assimilated the Munsee into the Confederacy and the Nation. (Folts at pp 34)

In 1756 the Confederacy directed the Munsee to settle in a new town on the Chemung called Assinisink, at present day Corning, located in Seneca territory. The Seneca received some of the Munsees’ war prisoners as part of the negotiations. (Folts at pp 34)

At a peace conference in Easton, Pennsylvania in 1758, the Seneca chief Tagashata demonstrated control over affairs of the belligerent Munsee and Minnisink by requiring them to conclude a peace with the colonists and “take the hatchet out of your heads, and bury it under ground, where it shall always rest and never be taken up again,” A large delegation of Iroquois attended this meeting and demonstrated that the Munsee were now under the protection of the tribe. (Herbert C. Kraft, The Lenape: Archaeology, History and Ethnography (Newark, N.J.:New Jersey Historical Society, 1986), p. 230.)

In 1759, colonial records indicate that in order to have diplomatic success with the Munsees, negotiators had to speak with the Seneca. (Robert S. Grumet, “The Minnisink Settlements: Native American Identity and Society in the Munsee Heartland, 1650-1778.” In: the People of Minnisink, David Orr and Douglas Campana, Eds. (Philadelphia: National Park Service, 1991), p. 236. (Grumet cites the Colonial Records of Pennsylvania, 8: 416))

In 1778, Seneca fought on the side of the British in the revolutionary war and participated in well planned raids prosecuted by Mohawk Chief Joseph Brant on Woodstock and Warwarsing. These raids, including the Battle of Minnisink, were carefully planned raids on a trail laid out “from the Susquehanna to the Delaware Valley and over the Pine Hill to the Esopus Country.”

By the end of the eighteenth century, the Munsee’s who had previously migrated to the upper Susquehanna region were living in Seneca communities.

Interactions with the United States

During the American Revolutionary War, some Senecas sided with the British and Loyalists and as a result, in 1779 came under attack by United States forces as part of the Sullivan Expedition. On July 8, 1788, the Senecas (along with some Mohawk, Oneida, Onondago, and Cayogas tribes) sold rights to land east of the Genesee River in New York to Oliver Phelps and Nathaniel Gorham of Massachusetts.[5] On November 11, 1794, the Seneca (along with the other Haudenosaunee nations) signed the Treaty of Canandaigua with the United States agreeing to peaceful relations. On September 15, 1797 at the Treaty of Big Tree the Seneca sold their lands west of the Genesee river retaining ten reservations for themselves and opened up the rest of Western New York for settlement. On January 15, 1838, the Treaty of Buffalo Creek was signed relocating the Senecas to a tract of land west of the state of Missouri, but most refused to go. The Seneca formed a modern government, the Seneca Nation of Indians, in 1848, but the traditional tribal government still governs the Tonawanda Band of Seneca Indians.

Today

While it is not known exactly how many Seneca there are, approximately ten thousand Seneca live near Lake Erie.

About 7,800 people are citizens of the Seneca Nation of Indians. These enrolled members live or work on five reservations in New York: the Allegany (which contains the city of Salamanca); the Cattaraugus near Gowanda, New York; the Buffalo Creek Territory located in downtown Buffalo, NY; the Niagara Falls Territory located in Niagara Falls, New York; and the Oil Springs Reservation, near Cuba, New York. Few Seneca reside at the Oil Springs, Buffalo Creek, or Niagara Territories due to the small amount of land at each. The last two territories are held and used specifically for gaming casinos.

Another 1,200 or more people are citizens of the Tonawanda Band of Seneca Indians and live on the Tonawanda Reservation near Akron, New York. Other Seneca are members of the Seneca-Cayuga Tribe of Oklahoma who live near Miami, Oklahoma.

Some 10,000 to 25,000 Seneca are citizens of Six Nations and reside on the Grand River Territory near Brantford, Ontario, Canada. They are descendants of Seneca who went to Canada after the American Revolution, where they were given land as allies of the British government.

Other enrolled members of the Seneca Nation live throughout the United States.

Kinzua Dam displacement

Begun in 1960, construction of the Kinzua Dam on the Allegheny River forced the relocation of approximately 600 Seneca from 10,000 acres of land which they had occupied under the 1794 Treaty of Canandaigua. They were relocated to Salamanca, New York, near the northern shore of the Allegheny Reservoir, which covers land flooded by the dam. In 1961, citing the immediate need for flood control, President John F. Kennedy denied a request by the Seneca to halt construction.[6][7]

Leased land disputes

In 1990 the Seneca Settlement Act resolved a long-running land dispute between the Seneca and the State of New York. The dispute centered around 99–year leases granted by the Seneca in 1890 for lands now in the city of Salamanca and nearby villages. The settlement cropped up again in the early 2000s, as issues arose over use of settlement lands for casino gaming operations.[8]

Grand Island claims

On August 25, 1993, the Seneca filed suit in United States District Court to begin an action to reclaim land allegedly taken from it by New York without having gained required approval of the treaty by the United States government. The lands consisted of Grand Island several smaller islands in the Niagara River. In November 1993, the Tonawanda Band of Seneca Indians moved to join the claim as a plaintiff; it was granted standing as a plaintiff.

In 1998, the United States intervened in the lawsuits on behalf of the plaintiffs in the claim. This was to allow the claim to proceed against New York in light of its assertion of its immunity from suit under the Eleventh Amendment to the United States Constitution.[9] After extensive negotiations and pre-trial procedures, all parties to the claim moved for judgment as a matter of law.

By decision and order dated June 21, 2002, the trial court held that the Seneca ceded the subject lands to Great Britain in the 1764 treaties of peace after the French and Indian War (Seven Years' War). Thus the disputed lands were not owned by the Seneca at the time of the 1794 Treaty of Canandaigua. The court found that the state of New York's "purchase" of the lands from the Seneca in 1815 was intended to avoid conflict with them, but the state already owned it by virtue of Great Britain's defeat in the Revolution.[10]

The Seneca appealed this decision. The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the trial court's decision on September 9, 2004.[11] The Senecas then sought review of this decision by the US Supreme Court. On June 5, 2006, the Court declined to hear the case.[12]

Thruway claims

On April 18, 2007, the Seneca Nation laid claim to a stretch of Interstate 90 that crosses the Cattaraugus Reservation. They revoked their 1954 agreement that had granted the Interstate Highway System and New York State Thruway Authority permission to build the highway through the territory. The move was a direct shot at New York Governor Eliot Spitzer's attempts to collect taxes from businesses on Seneca territory.[13]

The Senecas had previously brought suit against the state on the same basis. That was decided in favor of the state based on its assertion of sovereign immunity.[14] In Magistrate Heckman's Report and Recommendation, it was noted that the State of New York asserted its immunity from suit against both counts of the complaint. One count was the Seneca Tribe's challenge regarding the state's acquisition of Grand Island and other smaller islands in the Niagara River, and the second count challenged the state's thruway easement.

The United States was permitted to intervene on behalf of the Seneca Nation and the Tonawanda Band of Seneca Indians. The United States was directed to file an amended complaint that "clearly states the relief sought by the United States in this action." In this amended complaint, the United States did not seek any relief on behalf of the Seneca Nation relative to the thruway easement. By not seeking such relief in its amended complaint, the United States permitted the action relative to the thruway easement to be subject to dismissal based on New York's immunity from suit under the Eleventh Amendment to the US Constitution.[14] On May 4, 2007, the Seneca Nation threatened to revoke its agreement of easement for Interstate 86.[15]

Economy

Diversified businesses

The Senecas have a diversified economy that relies on construction, recreation, tourism, retail sales, and have recently become involved in the gaming industry.

Several large construction companies are located on the Cattaraugus and Allegany Territories. There are also many smaller construction companies that are owned and operated by Seneca people. A considerable number of Seneca men work in some facet of the construction industry.

Recreation is one component of Seneca enterprises. The Highbanks Campground plays host to several thousand visitors every summer, as people take in the scenic vistas and enjoy the Allegheny Reservoir. Several thousand fishing licenses are sold each year to non-Seneca fishermen. Many of these customers are tourists to the region. Tourism in the area often comes as a direct result of several major highways adjacent to or on the Seneca Nation Territories that provide ready accessibility to local, regional and national traffic. Many tourists visit the region during the autumn for the fall foliage.

A substantial portion of the Seneca economy revolves around retail sales. From sports apparel to candles to artwork to traditional crafts, the wide range of products for sale on Seneca Nation Territories reflect the diverse interest of Seneca Nation citizens.

Tax free gasoline and cigarette sales

The price advantage of the Senecas' ability to sell tax-free gasoline and cigarettes has created a boom in their economy, including many service stations along the state highways that run through the reservations as well as many internet cigarette stores. This, however, has raised the ire of competing business interests and the state government. Non-Indian service stations cannot compete with Seneca prices because of New York's high cigarette and gasoline taxes. The state of New York believes that the tribe's sales of cigarettes by Internet are illegal. It also believes that the state has the authority to tax non-Indians who patronize Seneca businesses, a principle which the Senecas reject.

Seneca President Barry Snyder has defended the price advantage as an issue of sovereignty. Secondly, he has cited the Treaty of Canandaigua and Treaty of Buffalo Creek as the basis of Senecas' exemption from collecting taxes on cigarettes to pay the state.[16] The Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court, Third Department rejected this conclusion.[17] In that decision the court held that the provisions of the treaty regarding taxation was only with regard to property taxes. The New York Court of Appeals on December 1, 1994 affirmed the lower court's decision.[18]

In 1997, New York State attempted to enforce taxation of Indian gasoline and cigarettes. The attempt was thwarted after numerous Senecas protested by setting fire to tires and cutting off traffic to Interstate 90 and New York State Route 17 (the future Interstate 86).[19]

Former Attorney General Eliot Spitzer attempted to cut off the Seneca Tribe's internet cigarette sales. His office attempted to negotiate deals directly with credit card companies and delivery services to reject handling cigarette purchases by consumers.[20] Another attempt at collecting taxes on gasoline and cigarettes sold to non-Indians was set to begin March 1, 2006; but it was tabled, much to the chagrin of Spitzer and the state legislature, by the State Department of Taxation and Finance.[21]

Shortly after March 1, 2006, other parties began proceedings to compel the State of New York to enforce its tax laws on sales to non-Indians on Indian land. Seneca County, New York began a proceeding which was dismissed.[22] Similarly, the New York State Association of Convenience Stores began a proceeding, which was also dismissed.[23] Based on the dismissal of these proceedings, Daniel Warren, a member and officer of Upstate Citizens for Equality, moved to vacate the judgment dismissing his 2002 state court action. The latter was dismissed because the court ruled that he had lack of standing.[24]

Governor David Paterson included $62 million of revenue in his budget from the proposed collection of these taxes. He signed a new law requiring that manufacturers and wholesalers swear under penalty of perjury that they are not selling untaxed cigarettes.[25]

In response to this, the Senecas announced plans to collect a toll from all who travel the length of I-90 that goes through their reservation. In 2007 the Senecas rescinded the agreement that permitted construction of the thruway and its attendant easement through their reservation.[26] Some commentators have contended that this agreement was not necessary or moot because the United States was already granted free right of passage across the Senecas' land in the Treaty of Canandaigua.[27]

Casinos

With the US Supreme Court decision ruling that Native Americans could establish gaming on reservations, the Seneca Nation began to develop its gambling industry during the late 1980s. It began, as states and other tribes did, with bingo.

In 2002, the Seneca Nation of Indians signed a Gaming Compact with the State of New York to cooperate in the establishment of three class III gambling facilities (casinos). It established the Seneca Gaming Corporation to manage its operations. Currently the Seneca Nation of Indians owns and operates two casinos: one in Niagara Falls, New York called Seneca Niagara and the other in Salamanca called Seneca Allegany.

Construction began on a third, the Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino, in downtown Buffalo. In 2007 the Seneca opened a temporary casino on its land in Buffalo after federal approval, to satisfy its agreement with the state. Some citizens have opposed all Indian gambling, but especially the Buffalo location. Additional controversy has been engendered because there were questions about whether the Seneca-controlled land met other status criteria for gambling.[8]

Some civic groups, including a "broad coalition of Buffalo's political, business, and cultural leaders", have opposed the Seneca Nation's establishment of a casino in Buffalo. They believe the operations will adversely affect the economic and social environment of the already struggling city.[8] Opponents include the Upstate Citizens for Equality and Citizens for a Better Buffalo, who recently won a lawsuit[28] challenging the legality of the proposed casino in Buffalo, because of the status of the land. On July 8, 2008, United States District Judge William M. Skretny issued a decision holding that the Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino is not on gaming-eligible lands.[29] The National Indian Gaming Commission is reviewing proposed Seneca regulations and weighing its appeal options.[30]

The Seneca were given five days to respond or to face fines and a forced shutdown. They have indicated they refuse to comply with the commission's order and will appeal.[30]

Given the declining economic situation, in summer 2008 the Seneca halted construction on the new casino in Buffalo. In December 2008 they laid off 210 employees from the three casinos.[31]

Broadcasting

The nation has established an official broadcasting arm, "Seneca Broadcasting," for the purposes of applying for and purchasing radio station licenses. The company currently owns one construction permit for a commercial FM radio station (broadcasting at 105.9 MHz) in the village of Little Valley, New York, which the company purchased from Randy Michaels in early 2009. That station, known as WGWE, is scheduled to begin airing programming from studios in Jimerson Town in late 2009, with a classic hits format operated by former WPIG disc jockey Mike "Smitty" Smith. An earlier application, for a noncommercial FM station at 88.5 in Irving, New York, ran into mutual exclusivity problems, and was instead awarded to a Pennsylvania broadcaster.

Employment

Many Seneca people are employed in the local economy of the region as professionals, including; lawyers, professors, physicians, police officers, teachers, social workers, nurses, and managers.

Notable Seneca

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Anthony F.C. Wallace, The Death and Rebirth of the Seneca (New York: Vintage Books, 1969). ISBN 0-394-71699-X
  2. ^ (Houghton, Frederick. "The Migration of the Seneca Nation", American Anthropologist, New Series, Vo. 29, No 2 (April., 1927) p241-250)
  3. ^ (Parker, Arthur. The History of the Seneca Indians. Ira J. Freidman 1967; Empire State Historical Publications Series XLIII P 13-20.)
  4. ^ William Cronon, Changes in the Land: Indians, Colonists, and the Ecology of New England (New York: Hill and Wang, 1983). ISBN 0-8090-0158-6; Robert H. Keller & Michael F. Turek, American Indians & National Parks (Arizona: University of Arizona Press, 1998). ISBN 0-8165-2014-3
  5. ^ McKeveley, Blake (January 1939). "Historic Aspects of the Phelps and Gorham Treaty of July 4-8, 1788". Rochester History (Rochester Public Library) 1 (1). ISSN 0035-7413. http://www.rochester.lib.ny.us/~rochhist/v1_1939/v1i1.pdf. Retrieved 2008-01-05.  
  6. ^ Bilharz, Joy Ann (1998). The Allegany Senecas and Kinzua Dam: forced relocation through two generations. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. pp. 55. ISBN 0-8032-1282-8. http://books.google.com/books?id=LhMW6prEUpIC&pg=PA54&lpg=PA54&dq=kinzua+dam+approval&source=bl&ots=vcICl5wfxe&sig=vqBxEuslwr5QDJ7Ljb94eUppidU&hl=en&ei=NzLdSqGsJIHCsQO4n5HXDw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3&ved=0CA8Q6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=kinzua%20dam%20approval&f=false. Retrieved 2009-10-19.  
  7. ^ 320 - "Letter to the President of the Seneca Nation of Indians Concerning the Kinzua Dam on the Allegheny River", 11 Aug 1961, US Presidency, University of Santa Barbara, accessed 24 Mar 2009
  8. ^ a b c DAVID STABA and KEN BELSON, "Temporary Seneca Casino Opens in Downtown Buffalo", New York Times, 4 Jul 2007, accessed 24 Mar 2009
  9. ^ "Seneca Indian Law Suit, Grande Island, NY, IsledeGrande
  10. ^ http://www.upstate-citizens.org/Seneca_Nation.pdf
  11. ^ http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/data2/circs/2nd/026185p.pdf
  12. ^ http://web.archive.org/web/20070930204114/http://www.supremecourtus.gov/docket/05-905.htm
  13. ^ Buffalo News story
  14. ^ a b http://www.upstate-citizens.org/Seneca-v-NYS-tway.pdf US District Court, Seneca Tribe, et. al, v. State of New York, Gov. Pataki, et al., Feb 1999
  15. ^ Salamanca Press article
  16. ^ http://web.archive.org/web/20070704124424/http://www.honorindiantreaties.org/learn/
  17. ^ Snyder v. Wetzler, 193 A.D.2d 329
  18. ^ 'Snyder v. Wetzler, 84 N.Y.2d 941, Cornell University Law School
  19. ^ Frens v State of New York (2006 NY Slip Op 51994(U), New York Courts)
  20. ^ "Attorneys General And Philip Morris USA Reach Landmark Agreement To Reduce Illegal Internet Cigarette Sales", Office of the NY Attorney General
  21. ^ Statement By Darren Dopp, Communications Director For The Department Of Law, Regarding Reservation Cigarette Sales
  22. ^ http://www.upstate-citizens.org/WVPExhibitQ.pdf
  23. ^ http://www.upstate-citizens.org/WVPExhibitP.pdf
  24. ^ Warren v. Spitzer, Billet, Poloncarz and Erie County
  25. ^ http://www.nypost.com/seven/12152008/news/regionalnews/gov_signs_indian_cigarette_tax_bill_144330.htm
  26. ^ http://www.buffalonews.com/cityregion/story/548608.html
  27. ^ Christopher Smith, "Seneca Nation To New York State: Bring It On", Buffalo Geek Blog, 14 Jan 2009, accessed 24 Mar 2009
  28. ^ http://www.cagnyinf.org/USDC-CBB-Decision-Order.pdf
  29. ^ http://www.cagnyinf.org/Decision_07-08-08.pdf Citizens Against Casino Gambling, et al. v. Philip Hogen, et al., Citizens Against Casino Gambling Website
  30. ^ a b Chapman, Chris. "Battle for Buffalo Creek: Notice of Violation doesn't change operations", Salamanca Press.
  31. ^ Athan Kompos, "Unknown Future for Buffalo Creek Casino", WGRZ.com, Mar 2009

References

  • Dating the Iroquois Confederacy essay by Bruce E. Johansen, ND.
  • Anthony F.C. Wallace, The Death and Rebirth of the Seneca (New York: Vintage Books, 1969). ISBN 0-394-71699-X.
  • William Cronon, Changes in the Land: Indians, Colonists, and the Ecology of New England (New York: Hill and Wang, 1983). ISBN 0-8090-0158-6
  • Robert H. Keller & Michael F. Turek, American Indians & National Parks (Arizona: University of Arizona Press, 1998). ISBN 0-8165-2014-3

Further reading

  • Cadwallander Colden, The History of the Five Indian Nations: Depending on the Province of New York in America (New York: Cornell University Press, 1958). ISBN 0-8014-9086-3
  • Allen W. Trelease, Indian Affairs in Colonial New York: The Seventeenth Century (Bison Books, 1997). ISBN 0-8032-9431-X
  • Daniel K. Richter, The Ordeal of the Longhouse: The Peoples of the Iroquois League in the Era of European Colonization (North Carolina: University of North Carolina Press, 1992). ISBN 0-8078-4394-6
  • Francis Jennings, The Ambiguous Iroquois Empire: The Covenant Chain Confederation of Indian Tribes with English Colonies (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1984). ISBN 0-393-30302-0
  • Jeanne Winston Adler, Chainbreaker's War: A Seneca Chief Remembers the American Revolution (New York: Black Dome Press, 2002). ISBN 1-883789-33-8

External links








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